Sunday, September 2, 2012

settling in

It's hard to believe that I've been in Mexico for over a week and a half.  It still seems like yesterday that I was saying goodbye to all the other YAGMS and alums in Chicago, but so much has happened that it also seems like a dream.  Was I really home in Edmonds 3 weeks ago?

I have now been living with my host family for a week, and they are everything I could have possibly hoped for in a family.  First of all, the house.  I live only a 10 minute walk from language school, and a 15 minute bus ride from the Centro.  My neighborhood is great.  There are a lot of little tiendas, taquerías, and other shops around, and there's even a panadería (bakery) just around the corner!  Everything is right at my fingertips.  I have my own room, which I finally decorated with pictures from home a few days ago (and my brother has already asked for copies of some of my pictures when I leave!), and I already feel very settled in.

My family is also terrific!  I live with my host parents, Mauricio and Zuriken, and my 9 year old host brother Mauricio (Maury for short).  We also have two dogs: a yellow lab named Rayo (lightening, after Lightening McQueen), and a chihuahua named Mate (I think after Mater, also from the movie Cars).  Zuri's sister Carla and her two kids Estefania and Humberto live right next door, and they have a pet schnauzer named Lola.  They're a big, happy, energetic family all the time!

I don't really see Mauricio very often; he works a lot.  But Zuri is almost always around, and she and Carla make life go smoothly around here.  Zuri is always checking on me, making sure I'm doing ok and I know how to do things.  I'm taking a new bus route to church in the morning, and she both wrote out directions for me AND drove me part of the bus route (until where I will change buses) so I can be sure to know how to get there in the morning.  She also plays translator.  Not that she translates things into English, but if one of the kids says something to me that I don't understand, she repeats it in slower, simpler, more enunciated Spanish so that I CAN understand it, even if I had no clue of what was being said earlier.
Estefania and Humberto with Mate

I've been playing A LOT with my brother and cousins.  They have basically two speeds: really fast, and asleep.  I love playing with them, and we joke around a lot (they're trying to give me a nickname, and I get hugs every time I get home), but I get worn out so quickly!  Today, I have so far played some soccer, jump roped, played Uno, and taught them to play Skip Bo.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to teach a new card game to several impatient kids in another language?  They just wanted to get started, and my Spanish is still not very advanced.

Humberto, Maury, and Estefania with Maury's impressive tower (made from Jenga tiles)

It's been really nice to have a sort-of regular schedule for a week.  I've been at language school for the last week.  It's a nice short walk to school every morning, where I then have three hours of grammar, an hour of practice conversation, and then some sort of cultural activity (like going to a market in the Centro, and watching a movie).  I can tell I'm getting a lot more comfortable with using the pretérito tense, but I'm still pretty frustrated with my lack of vocabulary.  Next week I'm planning on making a lot of flashcards in an attempt to improve my Spanish vocabulary.
They were pretty excited to play around with Photo Booth on my computer
I rode my first ruta (bus) yesterday, and I love walking around my neighborhood!  So basically, life is pretty good right now, with the exception of my language frustrations.

Well, that's my life right now.  I'd love to hear from you about how your life is going as well!



  1. Yay! I love hearing about your new family And especially all of the pictures! It sounds like you're having lots of fun, so far, even with the language difficulty (and exhaustion from playing with the kids). Can't wait to hear more!!

  2. Kristen, it is great read that you are settling in and learning lots of Spanish. Thanks for uploading the pictures -- it looks like you have reasonable Internet access at least for now. God bless you and your work.

    Alan and the Global Mission Committee

  3. Hi Kristen! I'm so glad that you're doing well in Mexico. :) I totally understand trying to teach kids a card game in another language. I keep wanting to teach my host sister here a game or two but always run into the fact that I don't know exactly how to translate it into Spanish! Suerte amiga. Un abrazo fuerte!